A busy week in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers has seen some of the continent’s heavyweights rack up impressive victories, including the likes of South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Egypt, but a 21-match Tuesday could yet see the landscape change en-route to Cameroon 2019.
Group E alone produced 10 goals in two matches, as Bafana Bafana racked up their biggest-ever win by crushing the Seychelles 6-0 at FNB Stadium, but Nigeria were arguably even more impressive in their 4-0 win over Libya (who recently lost their coach Adel Amrouche) to be breathing down the necks of Stuart Baxter’s team.
Despite this, manager Gernot Rohr believes the Super Eagles can still go up a gear or two for their return game against the Mediterranean Knights in Tunisia (as Libya cannot host games due to their continuing political instability) on Tuesday.
“To win by 4-0 is good but this result does not mean we had a perfect game,” the German told reporters, as quoted by the BBC. “We had obvious problems defensively especially in the first half and before we play Libya again [on October 16], we must improve on our weak areas.
“Sometimes you get away with mistakes and another time you can easily be punished, it could make a difference whether you can qualify or not. Our expansive play – by exploring the wings – in the second half helped us against a good side. Now we must maintain discipline in all areas.”
Egypt continue their revival under new coach Javier Aguirre as they defeated eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) 4-1 in Cairo, but North African rivals continue to lead the way in Group J with a full haul of nine points.
Other teams to hit top gear included Ivory Coast (4-0 winners over Central African Republic), Angola and Burkina Faso (who defeated Mauritania 4-1 and Botswana 3-0) to create a three-way tie with Mauritania at the top of Group I, while Ghana have had the week off after FIFA suspended Sierra Leone’s football association. CAF will decide in due course whether Group F is reduced permanently to just three teams – in the meanwhile, Kenya have taken control after their 0-0 draw away to Ethiopia, followed by a 3-0 home win in the East African rivalry on Sunday.
The only two away wins came from Madagascar and Zimbabwe. The former edged Equatorial Guinea 1-0 in Bata, while the latter stunned heavyweights DR Congo 2-1 in Kinshasa on Saturday evening thanks to goals from Ronald Pfumbidzai and Knowledge Musona (who was also sent off late on) to go top of Group G.
The return game between the Warriors and the Leopards in Harare is one of the most eagerly anticipated clashes set for a crammed Tuesday, which will start at 13:30 CAT with the match between Madagascar and Equatorial Guinea and wrap up with 20:00 CAT kick-offs for Libya v Nigeria and Liberia v Congo.
In between, South Africa will look to keep up their scoring form with a match away to the Seychelles, Egypt face Sihlangu Semnikati in Mazini and will be without the services of injured forward Mohamed Salah, and heavyweights Tunisia, Senegal and Algeria face potential banana skins in their away matches at Niger, Sudan and Benin respectively.
AFCON 2019 qualifiers results, 10-14 October
Wednesday 10 October
Group F: Ethiopia 0-0 Kenya
Group K: Zambia 2-1 Guinea-Bissau
Thursday 11 October
Group G: Congo 3-1 Liberia
Friday 12 October
Group B: Cameroon 1-0 Malawi
Group C: Gabon 3-0 South Sudan
Group C: Mali 0-0 Burundi
Group D: Algeria 2-10 Benin
Group D: Togo 1-1 Gambia
Group H: Ivory Coast 4-0 Central African Republic
Group H: Guinea 2-0 Rwanda
Group I: Angola 4-1 Mauritania
Group J: Egypt 4-1 Swaziland
Group L: Cape Verde 3-0 Tanzania
Saturday 13 October
Group A: Senegal 3-0 Sudan
Group A: Equatorial Guinea 0-1 Madagascar
Group B: Morocco 1-0 Comoros
Group E: Nigeria 3-0 Libya
Group E: South Africa 6-0 Seychelles
Group G: DR Congo 1-2 Zimbabwe
Group I: Burkina Faso 3-0 Botswana
Group J: Tunisia 1-0 Niger
Group K: Mozambique 1-2 Namibia
Group L: Uganda 3-0 Lesotho
Sunday 14 October
Group F: Kenya 3-0 Ethiopia
Group K: Guinea-Bissau 2-1 Zambia
AFCON 2019 qualifiers fixtures, 16 October
Tuesday 16 October
12:30 pm: Group A: Madagascar v Equatorial Guinea
1 pm: Group B: Comoros v Morocco
1:30 pm: Group B: Malawi v Cameroon
2 pm: Group C: Burundi v Mali
2 pm: Group C: South Sudan v Gabon
2 pm: Group J: Swaziland v Egypt
2:30 pm: Group E: Seychelles v South Africa – LIVE on SS4 & SelGO2
2:30 pm: Group H: Rwanda v Guinea
3 pm: Group H: Central African Republic v Ivory Coast
3 pm: Group L: Tanzania v Cape Verde – LIVE on SelGO
4 pm: Group D: Benin v Algeria
4 pm: Group J: Niger v Tunisia
5 pm: Group L: Lesotho v Uganda – LIVE on SS7 & SelGO3
5:30 pm: Group D: Gambia v Togo
6 pm: Group G: Zimbabwe v DR Congo – LIVE on SS4 & SelGO2
6 pm: Group I: Botswana v Burkina Faso
6 pm: Group I: Mauritania v Angola
6 pm: Group K: Namibia v Mozambique – LIVE on SS10
6:30 pm: Group A: Sudan v Senegal
7 pm: Group E: Libya v Nigeria – LIVE on SelGO
7 pm: Group G: Liberia v Congo